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Nielsen: Symphony Nos. 4 & 5 [Sakari Oramo, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra] [BIS: BIS2028] [Hybrid SACD, SACD]

Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra , Carl Nielsen , Sakari Oramo Audio CD
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
Price: £15.06 & FREE Delivery in the UK. Details
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Frequently Bought Together

Nielsen: Symphony Nos. 4 & 5 [Sakari Oramo, Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra] [BIS: BIS2028] + Pettersson: Symphony No. 9 [Christian Lindberg, Norrköping Symphony Orchestra] [BIS: BIS2038]
Price For Both: £29.68

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Product details

  • Conductor: Sakari Oramo
  • Composer: Carl Nielsen
  • Audio CD (3 Feb 2014)
  • Please Note: Requires SACD-compatible hardware
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Format: Hybrid SACD, SACD
  • Label: Bis
  • ASIN: B00GP909HO
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 93,384 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

1. Symphony No 4 Op 29 The Inextinguishable - Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra
2. Symphony No 5 Op 50 - Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra

Product Description

Product Description

These two central works in Nielsen's production have now been selected for the first instalment of a complete Nielsen cycle by Sakari Oramo and the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic Orchestra.

Having enjoyed a close collaboration since 2008, this team has become ever more fine-tuned, as demonstrated on their previous BIS release, a performance of Elgar's mighty Symphony No. 2:

'playing of conspicuous finesse and commendable ardour' in an 'abundantly characterful, cannily paced and deeply sincere traversal.' Gramophone on BIS1879

Review

'This first instalment of a full set of the Nielsen symphonies suggests it could be very special: the performances have an irresistible momentum...In both symphonies the Stockholm orchestra responds wonderfully too.' ***** --The Guardian, Andrew Clements 06/02/2014

'The test (as much as anything else) of any performance of Nielsen's dramatic Fifth Symphony is whether or not the side drum is encouraged to obey the composer's instruction to 'halt the progress of the orchestra' - precisely what happens on the superb new recording by Sakari Oramo...also boasts a splendid version of Nielsen's Fourth Symphony.' --Classical CD Choice, 11/04/2014

'It has taken a long time to get to this point but it does seem that conductors in general have a much better understanding of how Nielsen's music should 'go'...Sakari Oramo certainly knows how to generate a good current. Both of these symphonies are conceived as strong, purposeful wholes.' --BBC Music Magazine, April 2014

'On the basis of this first instalment with the Royal Stockholm Philharmonic, he [Oramo] does not disappoint...Oramo's accounts re now the likely first choice among recent versions.' --International Record Review, April 2014

'Nielsen's harmonic bump-and-grind remains well served, and Oramo's pathway through these incendiary works is valiant and thoughtful...Oramo's views snap neatly into place like a Billy Bookcase and it's difficult not to admire, even if you can't unconditionally love, music-making of such clear-headed purpose and intelligence.' --Gramophone, May 2014

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
The recording of Elgar’s second symphony with this orchestra/conductor was so disappointing for me – I’m very much used to the punch and drive of Solti in that one – that I was skeptic of this release. I was totally wrong. This is the most enjoyable reading of these 2 symphonies I can imagine. One fine thing of it is that there’s absolutely no highlighting of snare drum in the 5th and timps in the 4th. It all sounds very natural so it’s more wonderful and effectfull than ever. Most producers can’t stay away from their mixing panels and pull the percussion in both symphonies forward to get some extra drive, force, energy or whatever. But with that they drown the other instruments, Nielsen didn’t ask for it in his scores – the dynamic markings are there to see – and the symphonies tend to get heavy footed. Orama, the orchestra and the production team manage a very natural sound and that gives the listener the opportunity to delve into the wonders of Nielsen’s orchestration technique, which is totally individual. So with this release you get a natural and forceful Nielsen, not forced!, not highlighted but very well played and engineered. I’d especially ask attention for the great climax in the first movement of the 5th symphony, what a built up of tension!!! A winner, bravo!
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Nielsen 16 Feb 2014
By enthusiast TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD
Oramo is turning out some great records with his Stockholm orchestra. Their Elgar 2 was astonishing. I rarely buy a record hot from the press but got this one as soon as it came out. Although I do value both Ole Schmidt's and Vanska's accounts of the work, I've long looked for a really successful Nielsen 4 in modern sound and I hopes this might be it. I think it is but I was still not really prepared for a performance of such character. Oramo is a conductor who tends to have strong views about how a piece should go and then sets about giving it to us in a way that is hard to resist.

Nielsen is a hard composer to get. Performers can sometimes be divided into those who hear him as a Romantic and those who hear him as a modernist. As a noted Danish composer we perhaps expect (and some performers seems to want to give us) another Sibelius but that is a bit like expecting British and French music to sound the same. Nielsen's music is not elemental and timeless; it is more homely and of its (admittedly often troubled) time. So how should Nielsen sound?

Oramo's Nielsen is rather uncomfortable and Oramo is very much in the "Nielsen is a modernist" camp. He maintains pulse and flow - essentials in Nielsen - and I know of no Fourth with such overall integrity - while at the same time keeping the music unsettled. At the same time, and between his perturbed big movements, he gives us a very beautiful and relaxed - almost still - slow movement with some lovely flute playing. We get a really compelling 4 - as compelling as any since Martinon's fiery account - that is astonishingly full of incident and character.

Nielsen 5 has done better than 4 on record and is easier to bring off. There have been quite a number of excellent accounts.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By D. S. CROWE TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
The symphonies of Carl Neilsen, while never as popular in the concert hall as those of his friend Sibelius, have always had a strong representation in the recording catalogue. Nielsen's music is always recognisable, and his distinctive style straddles late Romanticism and Modernism with consummate ease.
The most popular of the symphonies are undoubtedly those presented on this new release from BIS, and individually and in this pairing they face stiff competition, and I am happy to report that this Swedish Orchestra conducted by a Finn and playing Danish composed music takes its place among the top ranked.
Oramo takes a more spare approach to these works, driving the music forward with incisive rhythms and eliciting a lithe, steely string tone from his first rate players.

In the Fourth this is in direct contrast to the massive weight of tone and more majestic approach of Karajan, and where Karajan almost seems to find the duel between the timpani in the fourth movement somewhat vulgar, and has his timps a touch recessed, Oramo has no such reservations and lets rip at a breakneck pace in spectacular sound that puts even the Blomstedt/San Francisco recording in the shade.

The Fifth emerges as a nervous, troubled piece with stark tones and all the plushness of other readings eschewed in the passages of emotional resolution. The insistent chatter of the obligato snare drum is punctuated by piercingly shrill woodwind, incisive brass and is underpinned by the pulsating drive of the low strings.

Both readings look to the future of music, rather than any nostalgic looking backwards.
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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Joins the pack of solid choices 4 Jun 2014
By Firebrand - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
3.5 stars

There are many competent readings of the Nielsen Fourth and Fifth symphonies in good sound, some lacking (and in some cases, purposely eschewing) the intensity and daring of the great interpretations of the past.

But there are high standards---benchmarks---that must be matched or exceeded in order for performances of these works to rise to the status of important and revelatory; standards for identifiable character and lasting impression, standards for swagger, intensity, drama, expressiveness, and the extra outrageousness and fire found in the very best Nielsen. These standards are set by the likes of Ole Schmidt's Fifth with the London Symphony Orchestra, the 1969 Jascha Horenstein with the New Philharmonia (which is never made it to CD), the 1990s renditions of Bryden Thomson on both the Fourth and Fifth (with the same Royal Stockholm Philharmonic that Oramo leads on this disc), and Rafael Kubelik with the Danish Radio Symphony from 1983. Michael Schonwandt's warmer, more centrist Nielsen cycle (a set that includes an outstanding Fifth), with the Danish National Symphony, also offer enough of these qualities to be impressive.

Sakari Oramo's readings here are, as another reviewer put it, "assured", quite clean and well played, but for me, they do not scale the heights of the benchmarks mentioned above. Tempos are well chosen, perhaps a shade quick on certain passages on the Fourth. The side drumming in the Fifth is good but not overwhelming in power (as the Schmidt, Horentein and Kubelik recordings are). Oramo is most similar to Schonwandt in terms of the polished, intelligent, even-tempered overall interpretation, a notch short of Schonwandt on the Fifth, but competitive in the pack that includes Elder, Colin Davis, Chung, Kuchar, Blomstedt, Neeme Jarvi, Leaper, Berglund.

Bottom line: another competent version in good sound, another competitor that does not supplant the legends, but worth hearing.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars *** 1/2 Assured, well-played readings from Oramo that show a lack of drama and mystery 16 April 2014
By Andrew R. Barnard - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
It is at once the blessing and the curse of today's modern era that musicians can master the notes of complicated symphonic works with less hassle than several decades ago. It's a blessing because it enables us to hear greater variety and detail and a curse because it's now easier to run through the motions. The variability winds up being the conductor, who has a myriad of options if he decides to actually interpret. In the Nielsen Fourth and Fifth symphonies offered here, Sakari Oramo is competing with Colin Davis, who fully mastered the symphonies in one of his last recordings for LSO Live. It was thrilling to hear Davis utilize the virtuosity of a great modern orchestra while still digging in with raw power.

The Royal Stockholm Orchestra doesn't come to my mind when I think of front rank orchestras, but being Scandinavian gives them more acclimation to Nielsen, no doubt. In any event, listening to their new Fourth one hears playing that is accomplished and and secure, with Oramo relishing in layers of detail. Interpretively, Oramo is definitely more low key than Davis, and he doesn't seek for propulsion. Certain lines jump out with new clarity, and Oramo has firm control. Going back to Barbirolli's reading with Halle, one hears an immense gap in the quality of orchestral playing. But does Oramo smooth out the textures too much? I wish for slashing strings and dark undercurrents, but Oramo sounds calmly traditional too much of the time. His mastery is undeniable though, if one isn't looking for drama and force. I'll confess I am; I wish I heard the unsettledness the previous reviewer cites.

In the Fifth, Oramo faces more competition, with a recent reading from Mark Elder and Halle alongside Davis, not to mention the classic great from Bernstein. Once again, we get a similar interpretation that is controlled and rather calm. It's less harrowing, cutting down on any tendency towards recklessness, but wasn't this supposed to be frightening music? Especially in the first movement, with its eerie world of swirling lines in the strings and woodwinds, I wish Oramo would read into the portentous mystery. He aims to sound beautiful instead and succeeds halfway--sounds are lovely but the emotionality is rather vague.

My feelings are less than enthusiastic, but those who want every detail played out without "intrusion" from the podium could easily mark this as their first choice. I'm in a different camp musically, which leaves me recognizing the fidelity Oramo gives to detail and overarching structure while still leaving unmoved. Davis is truly better in every way.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great Nielsen 27 Feb 2014
By enthusiast - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Oramo is turning out some great records with his Stockholm orchestra. Their Elgar 2 was astonishing. I rarely buy a record hot from the press but got this one as soon as it came out (it came out a good month ago in UK). Although I do value both Ole Schmidt's and Vanska's accounts of the work and love Martinon's recording, I've long looked for a really successful Nielsen 4 in modern sound and I hopes this might be it. I think it is but I was still not really prepared for a performance of such character. Oramo is a conductor who tends to have strong views about how a piece should go and then sets about giving it to us in a way that is hard to resist.

Nielsen is a hard composer to get. Performers can sometimes be divided into those who hear him as a Romantic and those who hear him as a modernist. As a noted Danish composer we perhaps expect (and some performers seems to want to give us) another Sibelius but that is a bit like expecting British and French music to sound the same. Nielsen's music is not elemental and timeless; it is more homely and of its (admittedly often troubled) time. So how should Nielsen sound?

Oramo's Nielsen is rather uncomfortable and Oramo is very much in the "Nielsen is a modernist" camp. He maintains pulse and flow - essentials in Nielsen - and I know of no Fourth with such overall integrity - while at the same time keeping the music unsettled. At the same time, and between his perturbed big movements, he gives us a very beautiful and relaxed - almost still - slow movement with some lovely flute playing. We get a really compelling 4 - as compelling as any since Martinon's fiery account - that is astonishingly full of incident and character.

Nielsen 5 has done better than 4 on record and is easier to bring off. There have been quite a number of excellent accounts. Being distinctive here may be a sterner test of Oramo's mettle but in the event we get an account that is again very distinctive and filled with character, that has drive and horror and that again delivers an overall integrity and seems "whole".
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